Archive for Real Talk

Poor Fundamentals Displayed by 1990 Upper Deck Cards

On behalf of the Upper Deck Company LLC, we at NotGraphs would like to apologize for the harmful influence of its 1990 edition of baseball cards. At a time when America was already enthralled by the siren songs of Wilson Phillips, and being told that King’s Quest V was a really good video game, our nation’s youth was already reeling on the edge of credulity. Then came these images, undoing three decades of helpful short films about how to act, groom, and play baseball, forever sealing off any hope of universal truth or beauty. One might protest that it was Crystal Pepsi that killed the last spark of resistance and laid an entire generation prostrate before the towering menace of American propaganda, and one may be correct. There are no simple answers. For now, we can only offer this meager apologia to the long-vacant souls of our generation.

Delinquent as this notice may be, we would like to offer the following corrections, in hopes that those affected might salvage a fraction of the lesser years of their lives.

This is not how to bat.

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Daniel Murphy, Paternity Leave, Boomer Esiason’s Lobotomy, and the White House

Mets second baseman and sports’-only-parental-role-model Daniel Murphy was in the news in April when he missed the first two games of the season to be with his wife for the birth of their son (who was unfortunately born a Mets fan, a condition that will make it difficult for him to function normally).

This week, Murphy was a guest at the White House for a discussion about working dads.

Readers might recall that, at the time Murphy took his leave, Boomer Esiason suggested Murphy’s wife should have had a C-section before the season. Interestingly enough, Esiason scheduled his own lobotomy to occur right before he made that remark.

I have one and only one problem with baseball players taking paternity leave to be there for the births of their children:

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Blogger Embraces Statistics, Statistics Totally Hug Him Back


As the star writer here at NotGraphs, I am known for certain things.

Prime among them is my star writing.

To wit: The Big Dipper is big. In addition, it dips.

Also: Orion is very Orion-y. It is more Orion-y than Taurus, that’s for sure. 

Also too: Betelgeuse is really sort of annoying. First of all, it’s way too loud. Like Chris Russo loud. And frankly, I don’t much care for Geena Davis.

Also in addition to too: Beta Virginis, a star in the constellation Virgo, has a surface gravity of 4.25 cgs, “c” being the basic unit of measurement for “carloads” and “gs” for “Garry Shandlings.”

What I am not known for – yet! – is a rigorous devotion to advanced statistics.

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Advice: Listening to Baseball Podcasts After 5/6/2014


It has come to my attention, dear NotGraphs readers, that some policies have been put in place over at Major League Baseball. Specifically, it seems as if MLB has strong-armed Apple, Inc. into removing certain baseball-team-centric podcasts from the iTunes store. I have provided a link in the previous sentence to prove that this is not a farce. It is a real thing, and it frankly upsets me. It seems silly to list all of the reasons, since the intrepid reader can almost certainly list most of them. Suffice it to say that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from any angle I’m privy to, but perhaps some further explanation from the Lords of Media will provide insight.

In the meantime, I’m here today not as a middling baseball writer but as an IT Professional. I’m here to help you continue listening to your favorite podcasts that were removed from the iTunes store.

1. Manually Add Them in iTunes

Just because iTunes removed some shows from the store, they are not gone forever. Any podcasts publishes updates via RSS. This is the address that iTunes and others look at to see if a new podcast has been posted. Every podcast has one. The RSS Feed for Stealing Home (which is still in the iTunes store as of this writing) is Others may be listed through services like Feed Burner or Libsyn. In any case, you can use that address to manually add the show back into your iTunes library. The directions for doing so are laid out nicely here.

2. Use a Podcatching App

If you are in the enviable position of not needing to use iTunes, now would be a good time to switch to a different application to grab all your podcasts. These applications, called Podcatchers by the most pretentious, basically do the same thing that iTunes does but without the handcuff of the iTunes ecosystem.

If you use iTunes to sync podcasts to your iPhone, I suggest switching to Downcast. They have apps for both iOS and Mac OS, and they come at a very reasonable price. Downcast is very customizable regarding things like episode retention and auto-downloading, and can be synced across devices using iCloud. You can use Downcast to beam episodes to a Google Chromecast as well, if you have bangin’ speakers attached to your AV setup. You can add podcasts via manual feed input or a very robust search function.

Android users can look at Doggcatcher for all of their podcasting needs. Doggcatcher comes with many of the same features of Downcast — easy search, customizable feeds, Chromecast support — and is also very reasonably priced. It was the first app I downloaded when I got a new Android phone.

This MLB/iTunes crackdown is a little scary and a little disheartening, but with a little extra effort, you can still get your favorite podcasts into your ear holes at your convenience. The real problem for podcast creators is getting new listeners through channels besides iTunes, but that is an even more alienating post that I will have to save for later.


The Difference Between Unwrite and Wrong

Once again, a series of on-field shenanigans – bat flips! finger pointings! voice raisings! fights! – have put us in mind of those principles and prohibitions known throughout the galaxy as Baseball’s Tacit Commandments, or, in layman’s terms, its “Unwritten Rules.” To wit: A’s infielder Jed Lowrie bunts while his team is up by seven, and Bo Porter’s head explodes so spectacularly that Michael Bay turns the ka-blooey into the whole of a three-hour film. Bryce Harper fails to run out a tapper, and Matt Williams is so managerially butt-hurt that he yanks his young star from the contest while tarring and/or feathering his very good name.

Now batting: Brycetar Harperfeather. For real!

Lastly but not leastly, Carlos Gomez admires his 400-foot piece of Expressionist art, an arc of deeply personal grandeur, and what happens? Well, what happens is that a hockey game breaks out. All of which shenanigania should convince the logical conclusion-maker of one logical conclusion: Write down the rules!

Before we take pen to paper or chisel to stone, however, let us examine the ways by which these Tacit Commandments managed to avoid writing systems in the first place … the ways, indeed, by which they evaded pictographs, hieroglyphs and morphemes, forerunners of the symbols I am using to convey this very message.

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My Year with the Houston Astros: Part 6 – Redux


The dialectic of fandom is something the spans a great deal of subjects. It envelops parts of psychology, sociology, philosophy, and even geography. The mixture of these can and will vary from person to person. Why are you a fan of the team that you root for? Do you even root for a team? If that team were to go the way of the dodo/Expo, would you pick another? Everyone has a different answer, a different thought process that would go into it.

The theme of the 2013 Astros — at least the theme that would surface if, say, an undergraduate were to study them like a text for an English class — would be that of renewal, of starting over. The Astros got as clean of a slate as a baseball team can get. They were not given this. They had to do the wiping themselves. That sounded grosser than I wanted it to. New ownership, new management, new uniforms — hell, even a new league — were all painted onto this team. Cream on this inside, clean on the outside. Was this part of the appeal? Certainly.

When this topic would come up in conversation — conversation I never initiated, yet always found me (I blame my hat)– the most common trope revolved around this general phrase:

“Oh, man. That must be depressing.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Union Between One Man and One Prospect Handbook

This bassist actually appears to know a little bit what love is.

Much like the various members of popular British-American rock band Foreigner, I have often wanted to know what love is. Nor, as is the case with Mick Jones et al., have I neglected to ask this or that individual to provide a simple, illustrative demonstration of same (i.e. love).

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Apropos of Something: Three GIFs of Taylor Jordan’s Slider


As the largely irresponsible leaderboard published by the author today at FanGraphs indicates, Washington right-hander Taylor Jordan has been the best pitcher of spring training by an obscure, if methodologically sound, metric devised by that same author that was just mentioned.

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The Aging Curve

sadness quantified

When I was in college I wrote zero novellas and rarely even a short story. Instead I wrote first pages to longer pieces that would not and could not exist. I put them each into a file cabinet, where the ink bled and intermingled, emerging as one embarrassing Rorschach blot. But despite my performance issues as a young writer, I soothed myself with the knowledge that there were very few twenty year-old novelists.

Now that I am thirty-five that comfort has grown tepid. My production has grown inconsistent, the tone of my longer pieces warbling as I patch them together fifteen minutes at a time. I am no longer one author, but a collective: one paragraph written by the hollow, pre-dawn Dubuque, the next the amalgam of a distracted Dubuque scribbling post-it notes at his desk. The result is often a mosaic, the kind one needs to stand far away from.

It’s hard not to think of the aging curve, reflecting on these facts: the gentle descent, the almost loving touch of attrition. Granted, the curve for writers is a much softer slope than the graph above. But it’s particularly noticeable now, when so many of our favorite baseball players are in the Best Shape of their Lives. It’s become cliché to note the cliché, but there’s also an underlying sadness to the fiction. It’s never the young who proclaim their physique; they don’t need to. Only the old think about feeling well, desperately cleave to the hypnotherapy of positive thinking. The alternative is the abyss.

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The Home Runs I’ve Conceded: Part 3, Lake Bonny Park

Each day this week, the author is recounting notable home runs he’s conceded during his life as a nearly decent baseball pitcher at various levels.

Previous Installments: One / Two

Lake Bonny

Date: March, 1998
Level: High School (Preseason)
Place: Lake Bonny Park in Lakeland, FL (Link)

I am both (a) almost certainly plagiarizing the work of another, more talented author, but also at least (b) appealing to capital-T Truth, when I note at the outset of this brief post that, during the career of a young ballplayer, there are moments when he is compelled, against his will probably, to acknowledge that he’s unlikely ever to become an older ballplayer — or, at least not the sort of older ballplayer who’s compensated for his virtues afield. “This is not for you,” the facts of reality conspire to announce gravely. “Time to re-evaluate your options, probably.”

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